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Wages

Last updated January 2024

This chapter explains your wage obligations, how to determine what you must pay your employees and the risks associated with underpaying your employees.

What wage must you pay your employees?

All Australian employers must pay their employees either:

  • an agreed wage; or
  • the statutory minimum wage.

This wage obligation applies to all employers, whether or not you are a national system employer.

Tip: You do not have to pay an employee:
- during a period of industrial action (however, if there is only a ‘partial work ban’ you may have to pay the employee for part performance);
- for any hours of unauthorised absence from work;
- for any period of unpaid leave or unpaid authorised absence; or
- for any hours during which the employee was subject to a lawful stand down.

Agreed wage

Definition: Agreed Wage

An agreed wage is the rate of pay that you have agreed to pay an employee in return for their services. The agreed wage becomes a term of the employment contract between you and the employee.
Important: If you do not have an agreement, you will have to pay the employee the statutory minimum wage.
Tip: An agreed wage can be more than the statutory minimum wage, but not less.
Example

Polly’s agreed wage is $70,000 per annum. Although this is more than the statutory minimum wage, her employer has a legal obligation to pay her this wage as it has been stipulated in her employment contact.
Caution: If you make an employment contract with an employee and then pay them less than the agreed wage, it will be considered a breach of the employment contract and your employee will have legal rights to claim what you owe them, i.e. the amount that the employee was underpaid.
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